Thursday, November 19, 2015

NAEYC Conference 2015 session trends


I attend and facilitate a lot of professional development trainings, they're part of my job, so when I go to a conference the sessions aren't usually my favorite part. Don't get me wrong, I love hearing others' experiences and finding ways to use their tips and tricks in my work, but there are a couple of other highlights for me. I love love love exploring the Expo Hall. It is absolutely fascinating to explore new products and see what each company has come up with to capture my attention this year, plus FREEBIES! I also spend ridiculous amounts of time pouring over the conference program.  The sessions available say a lot about the current trends in this field - what topics are popular, what tools/strategies/curriculums are mentioned numerous times, which different subjects are seen the most, and which topics are starting to appear that I haven't seen before.  

I haven't had a ton of time to go through the program for the NAEYC National Conference - I had some travel disasters that got me here later than I expected - but so far I'm noticing a large number of sessions on outdoor play, outdoor classrooms, and exploring nature.  In previous years sessions on the Reggio Emilia philosophy and Conscious Discipline methods have been extremely popular, and this is still true, but the sessions have changed. Five years ago these seminars were all purely informational, and given by the pioneers in each subject, now they are sessions about how teachers are implementing these strategies with their own students, their interpretations of how to use these strategies.  I've also seen a shift from the STEM initiative to an more encompassing STEAM initiative.  Over the years NAEYC has partnered with other organizations to recognize diversity, last year adding sessions presented entirely in Spanish, and this year including sessions in mandarin. 

I realize that a number of the sessions are sponsored by companies that want to promote their products and strategies, but ultimately, their marketing impacts the educational community, and whether we purchase those materials or not, the ideas have a tendency to find a way into our classrooms.  This means that exploring sponsored sessions is also valuable because it is still possible to learn from the background information.  

I'm exploring the expo hall this afternoon, and I can't wait to share the great things that I find. I'll be posting those tomorrow, and I'll be looking for new toys to add to my holiday gift guides, which will be up next week!


Photo from poster session


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